Mellotron: The Machine and the Musicians that Revolutionised Rock

The definitive book about the Mellotron and how, long before the advent of synthesizers, this extraordinary keyboard revolutionised rock and pop music

SKU: ISBN 9781898948025 Categories: ,



“Words such as ‘comprehensive’, exhaustive’ and’ ‘obsessive’, whilst certainly applying to the book, don’t really do justice to Awde’s achivement here”
– Sid Smith’s Postcards from the Yellow Room

The definitive Mellotron book. The Mellotron changed music forever when it appeared in the 60s. Long before the advent of synthesizers, this extraordinary keyboard revolutionised rock and pop music. For the first time, it brought a potentially unlimited range of sounds to a musician’s fingertips. As the world’s first sampler, its pre-recorded tapes included everything from a symphony orchestra and church choir to samba combo and rock’n’roll drum rhythms.

Those sounds created legendary moments such as the dreamy flutes intro to the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever and the soaring strings on the Moody Blues’ Nights in White Satin. By the 70s the Mellotron had become an icon of progressive rock and its haunting tones found a climax in classics like Genesis’s Watcher of the Skies and Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. Today it has experienced a renaissance after being championed by acts like Paul Weller and Radiohead. Covering subjects as wide as the baby boomer generation, the Swinging 60s, Sgt. Pepper, Hendrix, Holst’s The Planets and the advent of punk and disco, top musicians describe how they were inspired by the unpredictable keyboard affectionately dubbed ‘The Beast’, explaining too why the Mellotron and post-war society in the UK created a unique melting pot that made the world rock to a British beat.

Featured in this volume are musicians (not all of them keyboardists) who unlocked the Mellotron’s potential, many confessing to a love-hate relationship with the keyboard due to its eccentric mechanism:

Tony Banks (Genesis)
Mike Pinder (Moody Blues)
Ian McDonald (King Crimson, Foreigner)
Woolly Wolstenholme (Barclay James Harvest)
Greg Lake (King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer)
John Wetton (King Crimson, UK, Asia)
Nick Magnus (Autumn, Steve Hackett Band)
Martin Orford (IQ, Jadis)
Roine Stolt (Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Tangent)
Jakko Jakszyk (Level 42, 21st Century Schizoid Band, Tangent)
John Hawken (Renaissance, Strawbs)
Doug Rayburn (Pavlov’s Dog)
Tony Clarke (Moody Blues)
David Cross (King Crimson)
Dave Cousins (Strawbs)
Blue Weaver (Strawbs, Bee Gees)
Robert Kirby (Strawbs)
Robert Webb (England)
Dave Gregory (XTC)
Andy McCluskey (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)

Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson) provides a drummer’s view of working with four classic Mellotron bands, and there are perspectives from Geoff Unwin, the first Mellotronics demonstrator, John Bradley & Martin Smith of Streetly Electronics, the original makers of the Mellotron, and Planet Mellotron’s Andy Thompson

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– 592pp. with 300 b&w photos
Published by Desert Hearts, July 2008